1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, Yahweh appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am El Shaddai; walk before me, and be thou perfect. 

Fellowship with Yahweh

Melchizedec, king of Jerusalem, was the Priest of the most high Ail, whom he understood and proclaimed to be the Possessor of the heavens and the earth." . . ."Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, all called upon the Possessor of the heavens and earth by the word Ail-Shaddai: which in Gen.17:1 -He bestowed upon himself, saying Ani-Ail Shaddai,-walk before me, and be thou perfect."

"Shaddai, signifies mighty or powerful ones. Several appeared to Abraham, and three of them at one time condescended to partake of his hospitality. Their power is tremendous when they

choose to exert it upon the wicked, as in the instance of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim, cities of the plain: but toward the heirs of salvation, they are ministering spirits, beneficent and good" (Heb. 1:14; 13:1).

"But by what were these Shaddai so powerful that they could stand by cities, and send them into the abyss profound?-was it by their own power, or by the power of another?-By the power of another certainly: even by His power who is higher than they."

"Therefore the Possessor of the heavens and the earth announced himself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as Ail-Shaddai, or the Strength of the Powerful Ones, whose might he had witnessed in the destruction of the plain."

Yahweh Elohim - Ch 1


The messenger who came as the Angel of the Name, was familiar to the patriarch. He had conversed with this member of the heavenly host before, and his reappearance now was a cause for excitement. Abram, waiting in reverence for his opening words, was surprised and intrigued when they came. For the angel insisted that he recognise him by a different name, despite their earlier encounters. 6

Abram's interest and curiosity were quickened. Almighty God, Ail Shaddai was a title that spoke of Him who was the nourisher of families, and the multiplier of seeds. Now why should this mention be made of a nursing father? Who was there to nurse and to nourish? What was the angel implying? Could it be that this had something to do with the promised seed?

The words that followed astounded him even more.

"Walk before me, and be thou upright", 

said the angel with firm and measured tone. Abram recognised the words immediately. Everyone knew the story of the great flood, for it was the mighty epic of all peoples. And Abram had heard the story told of famous Noah, the champion of that earlier age, who in his generation had walked before God as an upright man.

Was the angel then asking him to emulate this hero from the deluge? But why? And yet, had not God made a new beginning with this man? And had not that fresh start been made through his sons? Could this mean that God now wished to do the same through him?

If only there could be a fulfilment of the covenant, which God had already pledged with him. God's covenant had promised him a son, a seed, an heir. Abram was prepared to make whatever new beginning the Lord might require, if it could but begin with this son of the promise.

His eyes were fixed with desperate intensity on the face of the angel, and as he looked he saw a wondrous sight. For as the angel spake, his noble countenance was made more radiant by the smile on his face.

"And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly."

Ah, what gracious words were these, and graciously spoken. Here then at last was the moment they had waited for. The pain of threescore years was about to be removed, or the time had come for the covenant to be fulfilled. Abram heard the angel's gracious words, and trembled with the trembling of feeble knees. Even as the angel spake, he fell fiat upon the good earth, prostrated in wonder, awe and joy.

He had lain thus on the day when the covenant was cut. 7 and he would lie now, on the day 'Then he learned of its certain accomplishment. 8 He felt a painful sense of unworthiness that even now, after all :heir failures and mistakes, God was still prepared to bless them and be faithful to His covenant. He doubted his own abilities, for life had taught him that, but his faith in Ail Shaddai was complete, for this was the all powerful, all sufficient One, and he believed in Him.

6 This is the first occurrence of Ail Shaddai, and the context helps to establish that one of its primary meanings has reference to God as a nursing father (cp. Genesis 28:3; 35:11).

7 Genesis 15:12.

8 Here the word in Genesis 17:2 for 'make' (covenant) is nathan referring to its giving or confirming, in contrast to the previous occasion (15:18) when to 'make' the covenant was karath, to cut or initiate the covenant.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Heirs Together Ch 5

4 As for me, behold, My covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations [ an Av of many Goyim [see 18:18]. .

Thus the angel stood and talked with the man who lay in humility before him. He knew that the man felt inadequate, and sought to comfort and reassure him. ''As for me, behold my covenant is with thee", he said.

Here then was proof that God's purpose had not altered. Abram might be a weak and sinful man, fearful sometimes and foolish oft, but it was still the sovereign purpose and pleasure of God that he should be the channel of blessing to others. All God's servants have wondered why the Father has worked through them as instruments for His purpose. They too have felt unworthy of the calling, but thankful like the patriarch that He has been pleased to work in and through them for the glory of His Name.

Not only did the angel's words confirm Abram's blessed role in this covenant promise, but they also gave the guarantee of God's involvement. For here was the assurance that He would fulfil His part through the operation of the Eternal Spirit, in making of Abraham a father. But the fatherhood, which Ail Shaddai had planned, was vastly wider in its scope than Abram had ever, or could ever, imagine.

'Thou shalt be a father of a multitude of nations', came the angel's words. He was to be the father, not just of the son they had been waiting for, and not just of a multitude of sons, but the father of a multitude of nations.

The very idea, after years of childlessness, was so stupendous that Abram struggled with the immensity of it all. Yet even as he thought, and lest he should be doubtful, the angel solemnly averred the truth for a second time, 'for a father of a multitude of nations have I made thee'.

There was no mistake then in what had been promised, and as a special token that it was true, Abram's name was to be changed to Abraham. His new name commemorated God's part in the promise, for it was God's involvement that empowered Abraham's fatherhood, and God's Name that was now mysteriously surnamed upon his.

God never does anything by halves. Their marriage, touched as it would be by the divine hand, was to be marvellously changed from one that was exceedingly barren, to one that was exceedingly fruitful. Only God can accomplish this transforming miracle, for this was His ancient imperative from the foundation of the world, 10 and His alone the power to fulfil it.

He would do so for the advancing of His own purpose in building a people for His own Name. But how grateful Abraham was that the Father's purpose now involved him, so that he might rejoice in this divine blessing, this promise of a mulititude of nations that would count their fatherhood through him. In the outworking of this promise, Gentiles would be included 11 for these nations, these multitudes were related to the patriarch by the operating principle of faith.12

Nor were these multitudes to come just ordinary mortals, for Abraham was to breed a royal race. Not just nations were to come forth from him, but rulers of nations; not just kingdoms, but also kings. The royal aristocracy of the age to come 13 would count their descent from this couple, for from them both would spring the generation of the saints who will rule the world.

10 Genesis 1:28.

11 The term "nations" here (Genesis 17:4-6,16) is goyim, the standard term used by the Jewish nation to describe Gentiles.

12 The exposition of the apostle concerning those who count Abraham as their father by faith, is based upon this very passage and phrase, "I have made thee a father of many nations" (Romans 4:11-17).

13 This reference to "kings" emanating from both the father and mother of the faithful is the first intimation of a royal family that finds its consummation in the "kings" that reign on the earth when all is fulfilled (Revelation 5:10).

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Heirs Together

5 Neither shall thy name [shem] any more be called [Avram], but thy [shem] shall be Abraham [Avraham]; for a father of many nations [Av hamon Goyim (Father of a multitude of Goyim)] have I made thee.

[T.N. Gal 3:29 says "And if you belong to Moshiach (YESHAYAH 53:10), then you are of the ZERAH of Avraham Avinu, you are yoreshim (heirs) according to the havtachah (promise) - OJB.]

(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.

Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. Rom 4: 17

"Israel is my son my first-born."

What does this import? Did not God tell Abraham that He had constituted him a father of many nations? Then these nations are in effect his sons; for a father implies sons. But of this family of nation-sons which of them is the first-born son? The testimony before us declares that Israel is. The nation of Israel then is the heir, and nearest to the throne in the empire of the world.

...When the events in Egypt shall be re-enacted... "a nation," even Israel, "shall be born in a day;" and other nations will soon after follow him in a birth into Christ and the political family of Abraham. When this comes to pass, all the nations of the earth will be Abraham's sons and rejoice in Israel their elder brother.

Elpis Israel ii.4. p299 Logos

7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a Elohim unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.

What is a Covenant?

The kingdom as it was, and the kingdom as it is to be, although the same kingdom, is exhibited in the scriptures under Two Covenants, or constitutions. But before adverting more particularly to these it may be necessary to say a word or two in answer to the inquiry, "What is a Covenant?"

It is a word of very frequent occurrence in scripture, and the representative in our language of the Hebrew berith. In English, covenant signifies "a mutual agreement of two or more persons to do or forbear some act or thing." This, however, is not the sense of the word berith when used in relation to the things of the kingdom.

Men's compliance or acceptance does not constitute the berith of the kingdom a covenant. It is a covenant whether they consent or not, and is enforced as the imperious enactment of an absolute king.

It points out God's chosen, selected, and determined plan or purpose, entirely independent of any one's consent, either asked or given, and is equivalent to a system of government fixed by the Prince, and imposed on the people without the slightest consultation between them.

Accordingly, what is called the covenant in one place, is denominated the law in another. As,

 "he hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations; which covenant he made with Abraham and confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant."

"These are the words of the covenant which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel. Thus saith the Lord, cursed be the man that obeyeth not the words of this covenant which I commanded your fathers."

It is evident from this that covenant and law are used as synonymous and convertible terms.

The statements of the New Testament conduct us to the same conclusion. It may be proper to remark here that a berith, or covenant, is expressed in Greek by diatheke. This is the word used in the Septuagint as the translation of berith. It signifies an appointment; not a mutual compact, but the arrangement, settled plan, or institution of one party alone; and is the term used to denote the testamentary deeds of the deceased, in which the will and pleasure of the legatees is never consulted.

"For where a diatheke is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator; for a testament (diatheke, covenant or will) is of force when men are dead, otherwise it is of no force at all while the testator liveth."

Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Aug 1851

8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their Elohim.


Abraham and Christ are inseparably associated as co-heirs of the covenant of promise. Hence, they, are joint-legatees of the country mentioned in the will. But, out of this rises a question of considerable interest, namely, when they jointly possess the land of Canaan, what will be their relation to the world at large?

The answer to this is, that at that time their name will be great in the earth; Abram's decendants will be a great nation; and he and Christ will be a blessing, by all the families of the earth being in them. This was stated in general terms when the gospel was preached to Abraham at Haran.

In searching out these matters the phrases "in thee" and "in Him," and "in thy Seed," should be particularly attended to. They are little words but full of meaning. The reader knows what it is to be in a house, and he is aware that he must pass into it before he can be in it. This is literal. Now, suppose we call the house a man; and in answer to the question, where is he? we say he is in the man, this would be to speak figuratively; but still Scripturally and intelligibly.

Before, however, a person, or a nation, or a multitude of nations, could be said to be in the man Abraham, and in the Man Christ Jesus, it is equally clear that they must pass into Abraham and into Christ. Now although many nations may literally come out of one man, a multitude of nations cannot literally be packed into one man. When, therefore, nations and individuals are said to be in Abraham and in Christ, it is manifest, it must be in a figurative sense.

Hence, "in thee," "in Him," and "in Christ." are figurative expressions, or terms of constitution. They are things of stubborn import. They do not express a feeling, but a relationship which is predicated on belief and obedience.

These are literal and actual things; for there is no Scriptural faith without belief of the letter, or written, or spoken, word; nor any obedience without conformity to prescribed action. To pass, or to be introduced into a man, is to sustain a relationship towards him of faith, affection, and allegiance, as prescribed. No person, or nation, can introduce themselves into a man; their induction, in other words, must be according to prescription, and not according to their own appointment.

God, or He to whom as His Substitute He has committed all authority, is the only person that can prescribe the formula of induction. Mankind are diseased, and cannot cure themselves. "The blessing of Abraham" is for their restoration to health and happiness. They are, therefore; the recipients of favour, and not the prescribers, or legislators, in the case. The nature of the inducting formula is determined by the kind of subject to be induced.

If the subject to be passed into Abraham and Christ be an individual, the formula is spiritual; that is, it places him in a moral and domestic, or family, relation to them: but, if the subject be a nation, or a multitude of nations, then the formula is civil and ecclesiastical, or political.

A person in Abraham and Christ (and a man cannot be in one without being in the other) is the subject of adoption by a spiritual formula, which will be perfected in "the redemption of his body" at the resurrection; while nations in Abraham and Christ are adopted by a political formula, which is perfected in the blessings of good government, peace, equitable laws righteously administered, the enlightenment of all classes in the knowledge of God, universal prosperity, and so forth.

The formula of spiritual adoption is exhibited in the gospel. It requires a man to believe "the promises made of God to the fathers" concerning the land of Canaan, the Christ, the blessedness of the nations in Abraham and his Seed, eternal life by a resurrection, &c.; and to be baptized into the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

When an individual has done this, he is in Abraham, and Christ, and an heir with him of the promises he believes. So that "the Seed," though spoken of one person, that is, of Christ, comprehends all the believers of the promises, who by adoption are "in Him." The phrase, "the Seed" is therefore used in an individual and federal acceptation. Hence, whatever is promised to Abraham and Christ is also promised to their federal constituents -- to the sons of Abraham, and brethren of Christ, by adoption into the family of God.

But, the formula of national, or political, adoption, has not yet been promulgated to the world. No people has ever been politically in God but Israel. The natural descendants of Abraham in the line of Isaac and Jacob, became the people of God in a national sense, by the adoption provided in the Mosaic law. But no other nation before or since has ever stood in the same relationship to Him...

...But a time is coming when the anti-christian, mahommedan, and pagan, nations of the world, will all become the people of God, and, therefore, Christian...[see Isa 19:23 & Psa 72:6-11,17]

...According to this testimony it is proved that the nations, or families, of the earth will become the people of God, as well as Israel, who will have the pre-eminence among them as the inheritance of the Lord; and so Israel and the nations will constitute a kingdom and empire, which will then compose "the world," and be blessed in Him and Abraham; whose subjects will reciprocate the benefits bestowed upon them, and serve their God-like rulers with heart felt loyalty, and blessings upon His name for ever.

Elpis Israel 2.2.

I will be their Elohim

This last was the best blessing of all. Other nations would find a path to the Almighty through Abraham the Friend of God. In the fulness of time, all nations of the earth would share the blessing of divine favour through their association with this man. But those counted as the royal seed of Abraham himself were promised this unique and special gift, the exalted privilege of access to the throne of heaven.

It would involve a priesthood that God had already consecrated, and whose office He would accept, a priesthood linked with Abraham, for he had already shared a sacrificial meal with its High Priest, Melchizedek. The promise would, of course, find a fulfilment in Abraham's natural descendants throughout their successive mortal generations in the land. It would even reach out to include those natural descendants dwelling in the land in the kingdom of Shiloh, which was come. But the fulness of the matter was reserved for Abraham's true children.

This covenant of fellowship with God, pledged to Abraham's offspring, was the promise that his spiritual sons and daughters would share the sanctifying association that he himself held with God. Here was the man who walked and talked with Ail Shaddai, as one speaketh with a friend.

Why should those who manifested the family likeness, not share also in the intimacy of this close relationship with the Father? To this royal offspring therefore, came this promise of drawing near to God in the spirit of fellowship.

The catalogue of blessings that God would extend by solemn covenant was now complete. It began with the elevation of Abraham to the fatherhood of a multitude that he could scarcely comprehend or number. It ended with the promise that this multitudinous seed, all of them, would enjoy the special privilege of fellowship with God, a fellowship such as no other nation could ever hope to share.

There was, of course, a reason for the particular excellence of these covenant gifts. Although these blessings were to be experienced in Abraham's natural offspring throughout their generations, they were in a higher sense to be realised through the Israel of God. In these promises to Abraham could be seen the overflowing care of God for His own family, the seed of the woman who are the children of God by faith.

He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations - Psalm 105:8.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Heirs Together Ch 5

10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.

The covenant of circumcision

Then came Abraham's part in this covenant promise between Almighty God and His friend. "As for thee" said the angel, and Abraham stood and bowed his head to await the burdens of responsibility that he knew ought rightly to rest upon him in return for God's goodness. God's contribution was abundant in its magnitude. What could be asked of him in return? What could he give that might in any way be adequate in this pledge between unequals?

The answer when it came was astounding. In return for God's mercies, copious and complete, Abraham was asked to do one, just one single thing.

''As for thee ... every man child among you shall be circumcised",

came the words of command. Was there nothing else that he must do? Why no. No more than this was asked of him, but no less than this was also expected. The rite of circumcision was God's sole requirement of Abraham, but it was to be sternly and rigorously kept. There were to be no exceptions to this simple yet vital observance. Every male had to comply. It mattered not whether a child was born in the patriarchal camp, or whether they had joined the household by being purchased in the marketplace.

The rule applied with equal force to every man child of Abraham's house, and not just for those with him now, but for every subsequent generation of his household. There were to be absolutely no exceptions, for the man child who failed to observe this token of the covenant in his flesh, would be completely cut off, circumcised out of the covenant, by God Himself.

The offender was not to feel merely the shame of social banishment. Their lot was far more serious. God intended that they should face the terror of judicial death itself, by which means He would excise them out of the promise. 15

Yet Abraham was puzzled. Why should the covenant be sealed by such a strange token, and why was it to be observed on pain of death? Here was a covenant that promised him the joy and privilege of fatherhood, and yet the one thing demanded of him by God, this act of circumcision, would make it impossible, at least for the moment, for him to become a father.

Why was God so insistent on this rule? If Abraham could not produce the child, then who could? Almost at once Abraham's thoughts soared to the greatness of God's purpose. It was all so breathtakingly, beautifully simple. This was to be God's family, not just Abraham's, a divine family taken from among men, everyone of whom would be ultimately begotten by the Spirit.

And because it was to be a divine family, God Himself, Ail Shaddai was to be the Father. Now Abraham understood why the promise reached out to embrace a multitude of nations. For if the Lord was to be the Father, then His offspring would be an innumerable company, befitting the operation of the immense creative power of Ail Shaddai, a veritable multitude who would manifest Him. How could it be anything less?

It was true that he, Abraham, might be the producer of the child, but only through the instrumentality and power of God operating upon him. He grasped the lesson God wished him to learn. It was this: that fruitfulness in spiritual things comes from cutting off the flesh. God wanted Abraham to bow before this principle, that the children of God cannot be produced by the natural powers of the flesh. 16

This token of the covenant was to be a perpetual reminder of this truth, and of more than this. For circumcision was not just a disowning of fleshly power and fleshly descent, but a glorious admission that God alone could perform the impossible, that He alone in His sovereign power could triumph where flesh had failed. And had not God already circumcised them both, in effect, through the deadness of their bodies?

They were already in a state of total dependence upon Him; they already knew that God alone could accomplish this thing. The man understood. His circumcision was the outward sign of an inward disposition that repudiated the power of the flesh. The secret mark he would carry in his body was but a sign that he was circumcised of heart. 17 and that his faith lay not in any confidence of his own ability, but rather in the inexhaustible power of the living God.

15 The very expression of judgement in Genesis 17:14 is couched in the language of the circumcision rite itself - "that soul shall be cut off from his people".

16 This is the real force of Stephen's exposition in Acts 7:8 - "And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac".

17 Deuteronomy 10:16; Jeremiah 4:4; Romans 2:29.

11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.


It was fourteen years after the confirmation of the covenant, and when Abram had attained the age of ninety and nine, that the Lord appeared to him to repeat His promises, and to appoint the token of the covenant. On this occasion, God talked with him, and changed his name from Abram to Abraham, as an everlasting memorial that He had made him heir of the world, by constituting him a father of a great multitude.


said God,

"My covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I constituted thee."

And besides this constitutional fatherhood, the Lord assured him that though so old, he should be prolific of multitudes which should descend from his own loins.

"I will make thee"

said He,

"exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee; and kings shall come out of thee."

The Lord then announced that the covenant He had confirmed should be established between Him and Abraham, and his fleshly descendants in their generations for an everlasting covenant; and that He would be a God to him and to them. He also again declared His oft-repeated promise, saving,

"I will give unto thee, and to thy Seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God" (Gen. 17:1-8).

In the passage from which this is taken, God says,

"I will make My covenant between Me and thee;"

and afterwards, "behold My covenant is with thee. The "will make" refers to a covenant subsequent to that confirmed fourteen years before. That to be made was the token of that which was already made; and

"the seal of the righteousness of the faith which Abraham had when it was counted to him for righteousness" (Rom. 4:11).

"This," said God,

"is My covenant which ye shall keep, between Me and thee and thy seed after thee: every man-child among you shall be circumcised; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt Me and you, Abraham."

The appointing of this token in their flesh was the establishment of the covenant with Abraham's seed in the time of Isaac and Jacob in their generations. When, therefore, Israelites behold the mark in their flesh it reminds them that they are

"the children of the covenant which God made with their fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy Seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed" (Acts 3:25);

that the land of Canaan, all of it, is promised to them for an everlasting possession; but that an everlasting possession in it can only be attained by belief of things promised in the covenant being counted to them for righteousness in the way of God's appointment.

They know, or rather ought to know, that the sign of circumcision and the Mosaic law, can give them no title to the everlasting occupancy of Canaan, either as individuals or as a nation.

It is circumcision of the heart, of which circumcision of the flesh is but the sign of the circumcised heart of Abraham, that confers a title to the land and all its attributes. Before Israel can inherit the land for ever, and so be no more expelled by "the horns of the Gentiles," they must "circumcise the foreskin of their hearts, and be no more stiff-necked;" and

"love the Lord (Jesus) their God with all their heart, and with all their soul, that they may live " (Deut. 10:16; 30:6).

Elpis Israel 2.2.

17 Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?

At the command of God, Abraham severed all his connections with his home and his native land, and went forth in simple faith, "not knowing whither he went."

Abraham's outstanding characteristic was faith. He is presented to us as the pre-eminent example in this respect -- "The Father of the Faithful." Faith that hesitated at nothing and rose triumphant above every obstacle and natural sentiment and desire.

It is one thing to be so vividly convinced of God's closeness and reality as to be able to defy universal opinion and -- dropping everything -- to follow an unseen Voice through strange, wild lands for 1,000 miles with no idea of the destination or perils of the way.

It is an even far greater thing to wait more than twenty-five years in that alien land for even the first beginnings of the fulfillment of the promise that had drawn him forth. What were Abraham's thoughts as year after year rolled by, each one making the realization of the promise appear even less possible? He waited in faith.

Then, finally, when he was ninety-nine, God appeared to him again and said the promise of a seed was about to be fulfilled, (Gen. 17:16). Genesis 17:17-18 --

"Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before Thee!"

Does this mean that Abraham's faith wavered? Paul says of this very occasion --

"And being NOT WEAK IN FAITH, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb. He staggered not at the promise of God through unbeliel, but was STRONG IN FAITH, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that what He had promised, He was also able to perform" (Rom. 4:18-21).

Why then, after God has just specifically promised a son to Sarah, did Abraham laugh, and then say,

"Shall a son be born to him that is an hundred years old? ... 

O that Ishmael might live before Thee!"

The Scriptures show us the conflict of Abraham's faith -- the tremendous strain that was continually placed upon it -- and the way in which it rose above every trial. Not without stumblings, but with constant renewal. God can distinguish between failure, and the working out of an inner struggle -- although often man cannot. Abraham's faith did not operate effortlessly or automatically. He did not wait with serene and placid unconcern. He had to extend every effort to steel his faith against the natural tendencies of doubt and discouragement, and impatience and weariness of waiting.

Faith had already carried him far, but still it was an effort of the Spirit against the flesh. How much finer and more inspiring Abraham's faith appears when we see its inner struggle! How much closer we feel to him!

The example of Abraham would be valueless to us if his faith were something that took over mechanically like an automatic pilot and guided him without effort. It was something that he himself had to put to use by diligent application and prayerful effort. And he did, and won out, and so became the father of all who follow in his steps.

Bro. Growcott - Shall A Child Be Born?

When asked to believe that God would give to him a son of her in whom his heart delighted, he laughed in simple, certain, joyous faith, and believed that it would be so. Not for nothing was he to be known as the "father of the faithful".

The words that followed were uttered in the spirit of thankful reverie, as a man talks with himself when reflecting on things profound. "Shall a child be born?" he breathed in wonder, as he turned the promise over in his mind. His words were not the queries of doubt or incredulity, for he had prostrated himself in reverence to utter them.

These were the amazed yet delighted expressions of a man who believed the promise, but who had not yet plumbed the depths of his own astonished joy and excitement that it would be so. Even as he asked them, he knew with exultant certainty what the reply was.

Yet he asked, to savour the sweetness of the answer in his own mind. They were the questions of the fully persuaded man, who had faith in a power greater than his own. The child would be born, of this he had no doubt, and that by the operation of God upon an old couple whose bodies now were as dead.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Heirs Together Ch 4

18 And Abraham said unto Elohim, O that Ishmael might live before thee!

Loving petition for Ishmael's care

Abraham was not a slow-witted man, and he realised immediately the force of the promise. For if this child to come of Sarah was the channel through whom Abraham would be heir of the world, what might this mean for his firstborn son?

A firstborn might not be dispossessed, yet the divine edict seemed to imply this. Abraham's spirit was swift to show care for others, for this had always been his wont, and anxious that Ishmael might be excluded from all blessings of the covenant, he sought reassurance from God. It was a reasonable petition, given that Ishmael's firstborn status seemed about to be superseded by another.

Abraham's desire, however, was not that Ishmael might replace the promised seed, but that God might still find some place for him in His purpose. Abraham had already rejoiced to see the day of Sarah's son, for his laughter of delight was evidence that he saw. But here now in his concern for another, he showed why God was pleased to call him near and bless him. For Abraham was a man of compassion as well as a man of faith, a man of thoughtfulness and of care. 21

"0 that Ishmael might live before thee",

he cried, and the angel nodded in understanding.

''And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him." (Genesis 17:19)

"Sarai thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed",

said the angel, and it was to his wife that Abraham's attention was gently but firmly directed. She was the focus of this blessing in being the bearer of the child, and all his love and concern would need to be devoted to her in the months to come, and not to others. But this care would be rewarded, for Sarah would truly bear a son "and", said the angel, "thou shalt call his name Isaac".

Abraham's eyes filled with tears. God knew their son's name! And if he already had a name, then already in a sense their son was real. 'Isaac' he whispered to himself with trembling voice, testing the sound and picturing the little one to come. It was all so definite and sure and Abraham shook with the wonder of the thing. How unutterably good was Ail Shaddai who had made promise that day.

And what was this? The child was to be named in honour of his laughter, the mirth of the man of faith who believed In the promise of God. Through this child, whose name would ever remind the patriarch of this joyous day, God would establish the everlasting covenant.

Nor was Ishmael to be excluded from the blessings of God. For in response to Abraham's plea that he be remembered in some way, an honour was reserved for Ishmael according to his capacity. The blessings of fruitfulness and growth, of nationhood and prosperity, would all be his, and God's promise would not fail despite the subsequent history of the lad and his departure from Abraham's household.

For his father's sake, Ishmael would be blessed and provided for in the wisdom of God. But his greatness would never lie in being the channel of God's blessing to others. That signal honour would belong to Isaac, and God confirmed His sovereign right to choose the one and reject the other when planning the workings of His purpose.

21 In a similar manner and spirit of care, he would later plead for Lot (Genesis 18:23,32).

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Heirs Together Ch 4

The Scriptures show us the conflict of Abraham's faith -- the tremendous strain that was continually placed upon it -- and the way in which it rose above every trial. Not without stumblings, but with constant renewal.

God can distinguish between failure, and the working out of an inner struggle -- although often man cannot. Abraham's faith did not operate effortlessly or automatically. He did not wait with serene and placid unconcern. He had to extend every effort to steel his faith against the natural tendencies of doubt and discouragement, and impatience and weariness of waiting.

Faith had already carried him far, but still it was an effort of the Spirit against the flesh. How much finer and more inspiring Abraham's faith appears when we see its inner struggle! How much closer we feel to him!

The example of Abraham would be valueless to us if his faith were something that took over mechanically like an automatic pilot and guided him without effort. It was something that he himself had to put to use by diligent application and prayerful effort. And he did, and won out, and so became the father of all who follow in his steps.

"Abraham laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old?"

That was the immediate, natural reaction, always present with him, which he fought and subdued for many long tedious years of disappointment and delay. "Hoping against hope," Paul tells us. Doggedly shutting his eyes to the things that seemed to cry out that his faith was foolishness, and keeping the vision of the promise before him.

"He considered not his own body now dead, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb."

"He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief."

His faith battled on, girding itself resolutely against the ceaseless assaults of doubt and delay.

And finally the promised son was born. How infinitely precious the seed would be, after such a long and trying period of waiting! Abraham and Sarah were now old. All the hope of the promise for which they had waited for a quarter of a century was centered in the boy Isaac as he grew to manhood.

But still God had not finished the trial and perfecting of Abraham's faith. The greatest test was yet to come, when it seemed that all testing must now surely be over

Bro Growcott - Shall a child be born

19 And Elohim said, Sarah thy wife [isha] shall bear thee a son [ben] indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac [shmo Yitzchak]: and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant [Brit Olam], and with his seed [zera] after him.

Now, at some time while Abraham was sojourning in the land of the Philistines, God appeared to him for the purpose of putting his faith to the proof; and of giving him in the person of Isaac, a lively representation of what was to befal his seed, the Christ, then in the loins of Isaac, before He should be exalted to inherit Canaan and the world. The trial was a very severe one.

He was commanded to take Isaac, "his only son whom he loved," into the land of Moriah; and "offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains," which God should point out. Moriah was itself a mountain upon which Solomon afterwards built the temple (2 Chron. 3:1); and the land, or region, around, is celebrated by the mounts, afterwards called Zion, Olivet, and Calvary. The mountain chosen of God is not named; I can only therefore express my opinion that it was Calvary.

It took him till "the third day " to arrive at the place, a distance of forty miles in a straight line from Beersheba. This will not be surprising when it is remembered, that he rode upon an ass, accompanied by two young men, beside Isaac, who conveyed the wood and other necessaries for the journey. Their progress was therefore slow.

"On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off."

He then caused the party to halt. He told the young men to stay there with the ass; "and I and the lad," said he, "will go yonder and worship, and come again to you." But if he were going to slay Isaac, how could Isaac and he come again to them? The apostle explains this, saying,

"By faith Abraham when he was tried offered up Isaac; and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten"

of Sarah.

"Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy Seed be called: accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a parable -- EN PARABOLE (Heb. 11:17,19).

Abraham fully intended to slay Isaac; but be firmly believed that God would raise him from the dead again; because all the promises God had made him were to be accomplished in Isaac's Seed; as it is written,

"My covenant will I establish with Isaac and with his Seed after him: "

therefore, said Abraham to the young men, "we will come again to you."

Elpis Israel ii.2.4.

23 And [Avraham] took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of [Avraham]'s house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as Elohim had said unto him.

Circumcising all his household

Word had gone around the servants that an angel had spoken with the master and the tents of the household were abuzz with excited conversation as to what the angel might have said. Those who had seen Abraham running along the path, reported that the master's face was aglow with happiness, and that the news was therefore good. One had overheard the word 'covenant' in his conversation, and it was rumoured that he had called his wife not Sarai, but Sarah.

There was no need, however, for prolonged and uncomfortable speculation within their families as to what had happened at the encounter. For a messenger now came from tent to tent, bidding that all males gathertogether, that Abraham might speak to them all.

When they had assembled, he told them with rejoicing that God had indeed made covenant promises with him, but that He had also demanded of his household a special token of the covenant.

Abraham requested all his men to join him in this act of cutting off the flesh. And the proof that although they were not all his sons, they still shared his faith, is that they all obeyed him. The devoted servant and the hired stranger, he that was born in the house, and he that was bought with money, the child of eight days old and the man of ninety-nine.

It was a rite that bound the family of faith together, not just the descendants of his blood, but all these who were the companions of his spirit. So important to Abraham "Was the greatness of this promise that he was insistent that his part, their part, be performed without delay, and so it was, on that very day. 22

When finally the sun sank behind the oak tree and washed the sky with ochre tints and auburn gold, it crowned and closed a day that Abraham would never forget.

Bro Roger Lewis - Abraham and Sarah Ch 4